An estimated 70,000 tourists will cancel trips to Bali over looming volcanic eruption threat: PHRI

Mount Agung volcano looms in the background of a Balinese Hindu tempe in the Kubu subdistrict of Karangasem Regency in Bali on September 26, 2017. Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP

Somewhere between 60,000 to 70,000 tourists are likely canceling their trips to Bali, afraid of a possible eruption from Mount Agung.

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika calmly said last week that foreign arrivals had not been strongly impacted by the threat of a volcanic eruption, but estimates about trip cancellations, projected by tourism authorities indicate otherwise, moving forward.

On average, 500,000 tourists visit Bali and stay in star-rated hotels on the island per month. But since news has spread of increased activity in Mt. Agung—and the volcano was raised to the highest alert level for the eruption on Sept. 22—as many as 70,000 tourists who booked a hotel in Bali, will cancel their trips, according to the Bali Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI). The figure covers the period of October and November 2017.

For the month of October alone, about 5,000 have canceled their trips so far, according to the association.

Chairman of the PHRI, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, says that despite this prediction, he hopes Bali can turn things around in November to get numbers back up.

Bali is still safe to visit, outside of the immediate danger zone, which has been set at nine to 12 kilometers from the volcano’s crater, said Sukawati. The volcano is located in Bali’s Karangasem regency, which is about 75 kilometers from the tourist hub of Kuta.

While awareness is spreading that Bali’s general tourist areas are far from the danger zone, many travelers worry about ash fall affecting the airport and canceling flights, should Agung erupt.

Because the wind direction for the month of October will not be flowing in that direction, the airport should be fine, Sukawati said.

“Actually the airport would not be affected,” the PHRI chairman said on Tuesday.

The Indonesian Tourism Ministry has a slightly more modest estimate of tourist cancellations, estimating that 60,000 are canceling trips because of the volcano.

“It’s an approximation,” Minister Arief Yahya said on Wednesday.

With the volcano threatening to erupt any day now, travel advice, or official warnings have been issued from some of Bali’s biggest tourist markets: Singapore, Australia, United States, United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

The governor is urging these countries to revoke their travel warnings, since “only 28 villages” are impacted by the threat of eruption and the rest of Bali is “safe” for tourists. The governor made the desperate plea on Wednesday, when he gathered together representatives from 33 consulate generals in Bali.

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